Maribor, 26 April (STA) - TAM, the once-famed Maribor producer of buses and lorries, rose from the ashes on Friday as production was officially relaunched at the company with the help of Chinese investor CHTC and Dutch company DuraBus, which plan to secure around 200 jobs in the coming years. President Borut Pahor was also on hand for the occasion.
The former giant, which shared the fate of the majority of the industry in Maribor following the loss of Yugoslav markets, went into receivership as TVM in 2011, but is now being revived as TAM DuraBus, 51% Chinese-owned and 49% Dutch-Austrian.
The new owners have bought EUR 805,000 worth of unfinished buses and material as part of receivership, while they also plan to buy the production hall that they are presently hiring until the end of the year.
The investors' representative Harm Prins and TAM DuraBus director Holger Postl told the press today that long-term plans have been made the company, which include the production of various types of buses, especially electric ones, and lorries.
TAM DuraBus expects to have around 200 workers once production reaches full steam, with the eventual yearly output set at 300 buses and 100 lorries. The plan for this year - 65 workers have been employed so far - is the production of 50 to 60 buses, mostly for nearby markets.
Postl told the STA in March, when production already began, that the first orders from the Czech Republic and Croatia were already in, while intensive talks were under way for deals in Australia, Switzerland and Italy.
While pointing out that project was actually the first direct Chinese foreign investment in Slovenia, Postl said the company would build on the TAM brand, which is still respected around Europe and not only in the former Yugoslavia.
Prins hailed today the good experience with investments in Slovenia and the government's programme for foreign investments. He said the focus will be on hiring Slovenian workers and assuaged fears about the "theft" of knowledge and the employing of Chinese workers.
He added the investors were also interested in some other Slovenian companies, but would not disclose which ones or in which industry.
Meanwhile, Pahor was on hand for today's ceremony as well, delivering the key note speech and joining the workers on the assembly line.
He pointed to the plans of the government to make Slovenia more open to foreign investment. He said investors should see it "as a location for safe and long-term investments that will attract Slovenian knowledge, Slovenian experience and employ Slovenian people".